Keratosis pilaris

A Complete Keratosis Pilaris Guide for Your Smoothest Skin Yet

Are you plagued by hundreds of tiny bumps on your body?

That aren’t quite pimples or ingrown hairs?

Hello and welcome to the world of keratosis pilaris.

Referred to as ‘chicken skin’, it is characterised by tiny raised bumps.

It can be an absolute confidence crusher and a cause for self-consciousness.

That’s why we put together this comprehensive guide and this ebook.

On everything you need to know about this tricky condition and how to treat it.

What Does Keratosis Pilaris Look Like?

Keratosis pilaris (ker-uh-TOE-sis pih-LAIR-is) is often called chicken or strawberry skin.

It looks like tiny white pimples; whilst not harmful, it can be stubborn to treat.

Symptoms include:

  • inflamed patches of skin
  • rough and uneven texture
  • redness and discolouration
  • increase in pimples, especially during cold weather 
  • itchy skin, especially on legs, upper arms and even on your butt

Note: Psoriasis, eczema, and fungal infections can cause similar symptoms.

Consult a dermatologist if you’re unsure what may be causing these signs to appear, and remember to avoid keratosis pilaris popwant to prevent scarring.

Keratosis Pilaris Facts

  • if you suffer from eczema, you are more likely to have keratosis pilaris
  • what exactly causes this condition is unknown, but some reports (1) suggest it’s genetic
  • like many other skin conditions, it isn’t infectious, so you can’t spread or catch it
  • the bumps are usually light-coloured, but if there is inflammation, they can become red
  • this is a common condition, as this study (2) indicates. It can affect 50-60% of adolescents and approximately 40% of adults
  • it is commonly found on the arms, but it can also be found on the front of the thighs, back, butt, neck and even the face
  • it can start early—sometimes before a child is even 2—and can flare up again during adolescence. Thankfully, it tends to fade by adulthood
  • keratosis Pilaris occurs when your hair follicles become blocked with a buildup of keratin — a substance found in your skin, hair and nails
  • beyond regular KP—which presents as rough bumps that can be itchy, there is keratosis pilaris rubra, which primarily affects teenage boys

Types of Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis pilaris can manifest in various forms, ranging from flesh-coloured bumps to red, itchy skin.

The classic chicken skin appearance is characteristic of keratosis pilaris rubra, which is often seen in adolescent boys with rough and inflamed skin.

Causes of Keratosis Pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris may have a genetic link and is often attributed to a buildup of skin cells in the hair follicles and the hardening of these cells, known as keratinisation.

Keratin is the dominant protein found in your skin, nails, and hair and acts as a protective, waterproof structure in the epidermis (your outer layer of skin).

Understanding the precise triggers for abnormal keratinisation is complex, so let’s take a closer look at this tricky condition:

Dysfunctional keratinisation

This is usually due to factors such as genetics and nutrient deficiencies.

An imbalance in the skin causes excessive keratin production; excess protein accumulation leads to follicular blockages.

This study (3) suggests that keratosis pilaris may originate in the hair shaft.

When the hair shaft breaks off in the lining of the follicle wall, this can lead to irregular follicular keratinisation and inflammation. The hardened protein plug forms, manifesting as tiny, rough bumps.

Irregular hair growth patterns

It is thought that irregular circular hair growth patterns inside the follicle can also trigger an inflammatory response that increases keratin production.

This study (4) conducted on 25 participants with a history of keratosis pilaris found that the affected hair follicles displayed a coiled structure.

This coiled hair shaft caused the hair follicle’s tissue lining to rupture, leading to inflammation, which triggered the irregular keratin buildup, suggesting that the condition originated from the hair rather than the skin cells.

Lack of vitamin A

Another theory is that those with keratosis pilaris may lack vitamin A.

This is why, as estheticians, we always recommend introducing moisturisers or oils with vitamin A in them.

Consuming foods rich in Vitamin A may also be beneficial in managing keratosis pilaris.

In this case study, our client found that regularly applying a cream with vitamin A to the affected areas significantly helped to control her condition.

Other contributing factors

Age: It’s more commonly observed in children and adolescents.

Medical Conditions: Conditions like Cushing’s syndrome, hypothyroidism, eczema, and allergic or autoimmune conditions such as asthma or hay fever might increase susceptibility.

BMI and Obesity: Studies (5) indicate a connection between keratosis pilaris and individuals with a high BMI or obesity.

Skin Dehydration and Pre-existing Skin Conditions: Dehydrated skin or a pre-existing condition like ichthyosis vulgaris could lead to an increased keratin buildup.

Despite these risk factors, dermatologists often view keratosis pilaris as more of a skin type than a medical condition due to its harmless nature.

How to Treat Keratosis Pilaris

Introducing the following treatments into your personal care routine can help to manage and alleviate your symptoms:

  1. Urea-Based Gels: Regularly moisturise with products containing humectants like hyaluronic and urea. These ingredients are unique keratolytic ingredients that naturally encourage cellular turnover without irritation while also bringing much-needed moisture relief to dry, irritated skin.
  2. Ceramide-rich moisturisers: To combat dryness and itchiness associated with keratosis pilaris, introduce replenishing ceramide and lipid-rich formulas into your routine, such as Fortify barrier repair cream.
  3. Natural Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids: Integrate natural alpha and beta hydroxy acids into your skincare routine. Hydrating acids such as lactic acid encourage natural exfoliation, aiding the removal of dead skin cells—an essential aspect of managing keratosis pilaris.
  4. Dry body brushing: Introducing this into your routine before showering with a gentle, soft-bristled body brush can help to eliminate keratosis pilaris, not to mention all the other excellent benefits that body brushing will bring to your skin.
  5. Lifestyle Adjustments: You can change your routine to help manage your condition, such as taking shorter showers with only lukewarm water, as hot water can exacerbate dryness. Avoid wearing tight clothing, as this friction can be a contributing factor.

For more detailed information on treating this challenging skin condition, Follow the link.

To Conclude, the naked truth

In summary, keratosis pilaris often presents as dry, itchy, and bumpy skin without causing severe discomfort.

Embracing a holistic approach to skincare is paramount; using gentle, simple practices like shorter showers, regular use of a body brush, and opting for milder soaps that won’t strip your skin’s pH is vital in preserving your skin health.

Avoiding keratosis pilaris popping is so important as this can cause scarring and lead to hyperpigmentation, those stubborn dark spots on your skin that are so tricky to get rid of.

Urea-rich moisturisers will help soften your dry, rough skin while also giving your skin an additional moisture boost—an indispensable aspect in managing this condition.

Moreover, formulas containing alpha and beta acids, such as lactic, salicylic, or glycolic, will also help reduce the persistent bumps associated with keratosis pilaris.

Hopefully, this handy guide’s suggested treatments and lifestyle adjustments will pave the way for smoother skin that radiates health, helping you embrace the beauty beneath your skin surface.


1. Keratosis pilaris atrophicans.

2. Keratosis pilaris practise essentials.

3. Keratosis Pilaris Revisited: Is It More Than Just a Follicular Keratosis?

4. Clinical outcomes and 5-year follow-up results of keratosis pilaris treated by a high concentration of glycolic acid.

5. The Link Between Obesity and the Skin.

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